MILWAUKEE -- Davante Gardner scored a career-high 26 points and No. 22 Marquette beat No. 12 Syracuse 74-71 on Monday night in a game that further tightened things at the top of the Big East.
Gardner played only 11 minutes in Marquette’s 60-56 loss at Villanova on Saturday, with coach Buzz Williams saying he benched the junior center because "he played really bad."
Gardner was the exact opposite against the Orange, making all seven of his shots and converting 12 of 13 free throws in 33 minutes to pull Marquette (20-7, 11-4 Big East) into second place, one-half game behind No. 7 Georgetown.
C.J. Fair had 20 points for Syracuse (22-6, 10-5), which has lost three of five and dropped into a tie for fourth with No. 21 Notre Dame.
No. 10 Louisville is alone in third, a game behind Georgetown.
Reserve guard Todd Mayo hit two 3-pointers during a decisive 15-2 Marquette run in the second half, and Gardner gave the Golden Eagles the lead for good at 56-55 on an 8-foot jumper in the lane with 5:05 left.
Michael Carter-Williams hit a 3-pointer with 1 second left to pull the Orange within 73-71, but Vander Blue hit a free throw with two-tenths of a second to go. Syracuse didn’t get a shot off and the game ended.
Mayo’s second 3 made it 59-55 with 3:54 to go, and Junior Cadougan was fouled while attempting a fast-break layup.
Syracuse called time out, and Gardner and teammate Jamil Wilson didn’t immediately go to the bench.
Cadougan hit two free throws to extend the lead to 61-55 with 3:37 to go.
James Southerland hit two 3-pointers to keep the Orange close in the final 70 seconds, but Marquette made its free throws to hold the lead.
Marquette made 24 of 28 free throws in the second half while Syracuse was 1 of 2.
Cadougan and Wilson both scored 12 points for Marquette, which extended its home winning streak to 24 games, second-longest in the nation.
Southerland scored 15 points and Carter-Williams added 14 for the Orange.
Fair scored 12 points as Syracuse took a 32-29 halftime lead.
The Orange used a 13-0 run midway through the first half to take a 25-14 lead on Fair’s baseline layup with 4:20 left.
Syracuse’s defense was stifling and Marquette couldn’t get the ball down low, with the Golden Eagles missing nine consecutive shots until Gardner scored on a rebound to make it 25-16 with 3:45 left.
Marquette scored eight points in 41 seconds, including a four-point play by Jake Thomas. Cadougan stole a sloppy pass and scored on a layup to pull the Golden Eagles within 29-27 with 1:04 left in the half.
Both teams have key games Saturday, with Syracuse hosting Louisville and Marquette hosting Notre Dame.